Elkhorn in the Moonlight – Excerpt

"Do you have a very clear vision of where this cave is and how to get to it?" Marcus asked.

"Yes. I remember it clear as day now," Nicole replied.

"How soon can you get yourself ready for the hike?"

"What? I'm not going there. You are. I can't just take off and leave. I have work to do. Plus, it's way too cold to go there right now. The mountains in that area still have snow on them."

"You think I would know where to go by the information that you provided?"

"I gave you very good information," she said.

"Do you have the coordinates for GPS?"

"No, I don't."

"So, you think that I, who have never traveled these mountains before, would have no problem finding that cave?" Marcus's eyes narrowed as he regarded her.

"I don't have any idea how you intend to get there. Personally, I think you should wait until summer to do it. The weather in the mountains is unpredictable."

Marcus sat thinking about the situation for a second, and then he said, "Name your price."

"Huh?"

"I said, name your price," he repeated. "I need you to lead me to that cave, and I have to do it this week."

"You're not listening to me. I can't take you there. I have work to do here. I can't leave to go on a weeklong camping trip."

"You can for a price," he said grimly.

"You can't buy me off to get what you want," Nicole said defensively.

"Everyone is willing to do certain things for a certain price. Will thirty thousand get you interested and willing to go?"

"I…I…thirty thousand? No, I won't be bought," she stammered.

"Look, Nicole. Let's quit with the games. I'm going to go there to get those Sacred Arrows, and you are the one who is going to take me there and bring me back. I'm offering you thirty thousand for a week…week and a half of work. I think your brother and his wife can handle the motel for that length of time."

"I'm sorry." She stopped for a few seconds. "I won't be bullied. My answer is no." She stood up to leave.

"Just think about this. Like I said, thirty thousand for a week and a half of work. Think what you could do with that money. Think of all the possibilities and opportunities you'd have. As for the weather, I know you have lived through worse weather right here in Mason. You know what to expect. I would not let you go up there without your GPS, your cellphone and satellite phone, your two-way radio, and letting your brother know exactly where you're at should there ever be an emergency. I'll give you until tomorrow at noon to tell me your decision, and if I were you, I'd think about this very seriously. I intend to have my way in this," he said sternly.

Grabbing his maps and the pictures she gave him, he walked back to the causeway and to his room.